Primary and Secondary Education English Teacher

Before You Apply

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Project Description

This assignment requires Volunteers to teach English to students at primary (4-6 grade) or secondary levels (7-12 grade). All Volunteers teach English as a foreign language together with Cambodian teacher counterparts in the school in their village or commune. Volunteers work with Cambodian teachers to integrate effective teaching strategies and enhance English proficiency.

In secondary schools most Volunteers work directly with the English teacher to teach English classes to students in different grades throughout the week. In primary schools most Volunteers will work with two or three English teachers as there is rarely a single English teacher assigned to primary schools. The English classes and curriculum in primary schools is new in Cambodia and teachers and students are eager to learn. Capacity and skill level among English teachers varies widely from school to school. At both levels, classes will be held for about 20 hours a week. Volunteers also spend time working with their teacher counterparts outside the classroom to prepare lessons together (including preparing visual aids, activity books, games, etc.) and work to enhance the overall learning environment at the school and in the classroom. Volunteers may also lead extracurricular activities for students such as after-school clubs and programs to enrich learning opportunities for their students.

Volunteers will also be trained to use different community development and project design tools to help meet identified needs of their community outside of the classroom. Much of a Volunteer’s time is spent outside the classroom, interacting with the community. These relationships often result in project ideas that respond to the community’s desires and interests in enhancing their community. Many activities that Volunteers get involved in with community counterparts include health education to improve nutrition for families, hygiene improvement projects such as investing in handwashing stations and education on its importance at the schools, community gardens to increase access to fresh vegetables, and life skills training to enhance the overall health and safety in a community.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have a strong desire to teach English and meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline

• Minimum of 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students or adults

• Classroom teaching experience at the primary or secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL or a foreign language

The ability to ride a bicycle is required as Volunteers' primary mode of transportation in Cambodia is a Peace Corps provided bicycle. Volunteers should be comfortable riding a bicycle for short to moderate distances (1 to 5 miles per day).

Desired Skills

While it is not required, the most competitive candidates will meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Education with concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language with 6 months classroom teaching experience at the secondary level

• State teaching certification in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language

• Tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students

• Master of Arts in Teaching in English, Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), English as a Second Language (ESL), Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), teaching a foreign language, or Applied Linguistics

• Master of Education with graduate or undergraduate concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

A desire to learn Khmer is essential. Very few Cambodians in the provinces where Volunteers live speak English. In their work as English Teachers and Teacher Trainers, Volunteers will get to use English and Khmer but the rest of their time: at home, going to the market, visiting a pagoda, working with local groups and making friends with community members – will all require Khmer language skills. Peace Corps Cambodia has an excellent language learning program for your pre-service training and has also developed 10 weeks’ worth of language learning lessons and resources to get you started learning after an invitation and before you arrive in country. Trainees will study Khmer 6 days a week during their Pre-Service Training and are encouraged to use their language skills on their days off by going to the market or community with children or host families.

Khmer language skills are important to have a rich experience in their host communities. Trainees who do not reach Novice High at the end of pre-service training are required to continue studying with a tutor at site. Tutors are also offered for high performers in Khmer.

Living Conditions

Given the communal nature of Cambodian culture, host families and community integration are fundamental to the Peace Corps program and require Volunteers to be flexible, accommodating, and to use all of their cross cultural and language skills. It can be a significant adjustment to live in close quarters with a new family, but every year we hear volunteers in Cambodia conclude that this is the most rewarding part of their service.

All Volunteers (including couples) live with host families for the duration of their service. The host family makeup and dynamic will vary from home to home. Some families will have several generations living together while others may be a couple with grown children who have left the community – and many in between! Some families will embrace Volunteers as part of the family and others may keep the living arrangement more professional. Both situations will help Volunteers integrate into the community and provide great insight into Khmer culture for you. Peace Corps thoroughly assesses the families and provides training for them before they host Volunteers.

While Volunteers will have their own room in the home, they will likely experience less privacy than they’re used to. Volunteers are required to share at least one meal with the host family each day. It will be difficult to maintain a strict vegetarian diet as soups and common dishes are made with meat and vegetables are often a minor part of your family’s diet. Most Volunteers find it easiest to prioritize rice, vegetables and eggs but adjust to consume small amounts of meat and broth to make integration into the community easier. It is possible to maintain a vegetarian diet with effort but those Volunteers should be prepared to cook for themselves and come to a respectful agreement with their host families about their diet.

Cambodian communities are eager to welcome Volunteers. You will see children grow, be asked to attend weddings, or celebrate special holidays together. You will build relationships in the market, playing sports after school, or visiting the local pagoda.

Cambodians are tolerant people yet it is best for you to build relationships in your community before revealing too much about aspects of your life which may not be common in semi-rural Cambodia. While small, discreet tattoos may be acceptable, tattoos and body piercings will bring unwanted attention and people may develop a negative perception of you. Tattoos should be covered, and piercings removed initially.

All sites are in rural and semi-rural areas of Cambodia, where transportation options may be limited. Some Volunteer sites are a day's travel from the Peace Corps office in Phnom Penh and may be several hours from another Peace Corps Volunteer. Some sites do not have regular internet service and may experience frequent power outages. Most Volunteers have an internet café in their town center.

Travel by bicycle is required of all Volunteers. Volunteers should be prepared to ride on different types of roads – muddy roads, gravel or pavement during rainy season, and dusty roads during dry season. As a Volunteer, you may enjoy beautiful rides through rice fields, under palm trees, as well as on busy streets with fast traffic.

In Cambodia cultural sensitivity is essential, including an awareness of the recent genocide and the effect it continues to have on the population. The effect of the genocide reaches every corner of life in Cambodia. Our Peace Corps staff will work during training to share this part of Cambodia’s history with you.

The tropical climate Volunteers enjoy in Cambodia means lush flowers, delicious fruits and brilliant rice paddies. It also means working and living in extreme heat and humidity. Most Volunteers have an electric fan in their room. You will not have access to air conditioning where you work or live. Becoming comfortable with a lot of sweat and cold bucket baths will be part of the Peace Corps Cambodia experience.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Cambodia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Cambodia can accept couples. TEFL/English Teaching Volunteers can serve with another TEFL/English Teaching Volunteer or with an English Teacher Training Volunteer.

All couples will live with a host family for the full 27 months of service. Couples will have one room within the family's home. Couples will be given the option to live in separate housing during Pre-Service Training so that each individual can focus on language acquisition during the initial training period.

Medical Considerations in Cambodia

  • Cambodia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood asthma;  cardiology; dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified. 
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: peanuts and shellfish. 
  • After arrival in Cambodia, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot,  to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.


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